Acting upon the warrant issued by the state court, inspectors of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) brought in the officials of the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ITABiH), namely: Jelena Majstorović, head of the Anti-smuggling Group, and inspectors Radenko Popović, Stevo Savić, Vladimir Puzić, Vladimir Đurđević, and Elvis Džaferagić.
They will be held for 24 hours for interrogation about suspected abuse of office and taking bribes. During 2017 and 2018, these ITABiH inspectors blackmailed the shop owners who were found to break the law, asking them for a bribe in exchange for not confiscating their goods. Business owners across Bosnia and Herzegovina have been paying inspectors several hundred to several thousand marks to get smaller penalties or for inspectors to turn the blind eye to the way they do their business.
Early this morning, SIPA officials searched the apartments and houses of the inspectors and seized evidence for criminal proceedings, and in May this year, they searched the premises of the ITA BIH.
As claimed by ITA, they have not been involved in the SIPA’s operation, and have no information about the arrest of their inspectors.
The operation codenamed “Brand IV” is being carried out by SIPA and the RS Ministry of the Interior under the supervision of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, which will decide on the possible arrest of the inspector after the search and hearing.
Last year, CIN published a story revealing the working methods of the ITA’s Head of the Anti-smuggling Group and her inspectors.
Shop owners explained to journalists that the inspectors, upon entering their shops, demanded that they turn off the video surveillance, and searched private premises without presenting a court warrant, as well as their bags and personal belongings, and ultimately confiscated the goods they found, thus violating the procedures.
SIPA inspectors filed the first report on these abuses in 2019, claiming to have established that Majstorović and her inspectors over two years used their position at least ten times to extort money from shopkeepers, and in at least four cases they illegally confiscated jewelry worth more than BAM 200,000.
“At the same time, they kept part of the confiscated jewelry for themselves by issuing several confiscation certificates indicating smaller than real quantities”, as indicated in the SIPA report. The shopkeepers claim that almost half of the seized jewelry is missing.